The Removal of the Cherokee Nation: Manifest Destiny or National Dishonor?

By Louis Filler; Allen Guttmann | Go to book overview

Frederick Jackson Turner:


THE ADVANCE OF THE GEORGIA FRONTIER

Meeting in Chicagoto help celebrate the Columbian Exposition of 1893, the American Historical Associationheard a young scholar read a short paper that was to become one of the most influential essays ever written by an American historian. Frederick Jackson Turner's essay, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History,"has had a widespread and an enduring influence on American historiography. Few scholars today would attempt to write of the development of American civilization without taking into account the significance of the frontier. Nevertheless, Turner's hypothesis had serious difficulties, and Turner, in attempting to reconcile his theory of frontier democracy with the frontier's tendency to repudiate the institutions of society,shows an awareness of some of these difficulties.

FROM the beginning of the nation, the Indians on the borders of the settled area of Georgia were a menace and an obstacle to her development. Indeed, they constituted a danger to the United States as well: their pretensions to independence and complete sovereignty over their territory were at various times utilized by adventurers from France, England, and Spain as a means of promoting the designs of these powers. Jackson drove a wedge between the Indian confederacies of this region by his victories in the War of 1812 and the cessions which followed. Although, in 1821, a large belt of territory between the Ocmulgee and Flint rivers was ceded by the Creeks to Georgia, the state saw with impatience some of the best lands still occupied by these Indians in the territory lying between the Flint and the Chattahoochee.

The spectacle of a stream of Georgia settlers crossing this rich Indian area of their own state to settle in the lands newly acquired in Alabama and Mississippi provoked Georgia's wrath, and numerous urgent calls were made upon the government to carry out the agreement made in 1802, by completing the acquisition of these Indian lands. Responding to this demand, a treaty was made at Indian Springs in February, 1825, by which the Creeks ceded all of

____________________
From Frederick Jackson Turner, The Rise of the New West. Copyright 1906 by Harper & Brothers, pp. 309-313, and Frederick Jackson Turner, The United States: 1830-1850 ( New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1935), pp. 393-394. Reprinted by permission of the publishers.

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